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5 Ways to Stay Connected with Family and Friends When Staying at Home

April 1, 2020

Like most of the people around the country, you may be stuck inside due to social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s difficult to cope when we can’t be with others, especially during holidays and special occasions, and it gets lonely when we haven’t seen our friends and family in many weeks. But there are creative ways to stay connected with family and friends, even if you can’t meet face to face.

In this digital age, there are plenty of options to stay connected while at home. From virtual happy hours to online viewing parties here are five ways to stay connected while staying home.

  1. Connect with video chat: You can use video chat apps like Skype, Zoomand Google Hangouts to set up virtual happy hours (BYOB), have dinner with friends, host an open mic night, have a virtual dance party, or create a nightly video call for grandparents to read a bedtime story to their grandchildren. You can also use video chats through Facebook Messenger, Google Duo and FaceTime on an iPhone to keep in touch with family and friends whom you can’t see in person while social distancing. 
  2. Host a Netflix Party: With a free Google Chrome extension called  Netflix Partyyou can play and pause Netflix movies remotely with your family and friends for a group movie night. You and your group can even “talk” about what’s going on in the movie with the side chat bar – as if you’re sitting together on the couch. Everyone you invite to your viewing party will need to have a Netflix account. If they don’t have an account, Netflix is offering a free 30-day trial for new subscribers. To download the free extension, go to com in your Google Chrome browser.
  3. Play online games: You can try apps that allow people to interact virtually. Challenge your mom or dad to a round of Words with Friends, a multiplayer word game in which players take turns building words crossword-puzzle style. The Houseparty app from Google Play allows friends to hang out together and play games virtually. It even alerts you when friends are using the app and ready to play. Games include Heads Up, Quick Draw and Trivia. You can even play board games online, such as Settlers of Catan and Monopoly and card games, such as hearts and gin rummy to have a virtual game night with your adult children or college buddies.
  4. Take a phone walk: Shake off cabin fever and take advantage of the warmer weather with a relaxing walk outdoors. Bring your mobile phone to have a friendly chat during your walk. It’s the next best thing to walking with a friend. Just be sure to wear a face mask and keep six feet away from others who are also taking advantage of the out of doors.
  5. Join an online book club: Reading a good book is a great way to stay occupied during social distancing, and there are ways to connect with others to discuss that book you just can’t put down.There are many options for you and your friends to join an online book club through social media. Online book clubs model typical book clubs, but the discussions happen online instead of face to face. Now Read Thisis a monthly book club on Facebook from PBS News Hour and The New York Times Book Review. A new book is presented each month and discussion questions are posted daily for members to consider. You can even post questions for the author. There are also many online book clubs you can join through Goodreads. If you have an existing book club or want to start a book club with family or friends, you can move your discussions online through Zoom or other video chat platforms.

If you’re feeling isolated, lonely or just overwhelmed with cabin fever, try one of the suggestions above to connect to others and lift your spirits.

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